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School boards need leaders who focus on education not politics

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6 minute read

From the Fraser Institute

By Michael Zwaagstra

Canada’s largest school board is looking for a new leader. Colleen Russell-Rawlins, director of education of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), will retire this fall.

To say her tenure has been controversial would be an understatement. During her three years in the top job, TDSB doubled down on its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies, with tragic consequences. Former TDSB principal Richard Bilkszto took his own life last year after facing relentless harassment from other administrators for challenging DEI orthodoxy during a professional development session.

The harms caused by DEI extend even further. Two years ago, TDSB voted to abolish its merit-based admissions policy at specialized arts and sports schools in the name of “equity.” Parents of students in these schools were not happy about this erosion of standards. After spending years building up these specialized schools, TDSB is now tearing them down.

Add to this the ongoing harassment of Jewish students in TDSB schools and the failure of administrators to crack down on employees who disseminate blatantly anti-Israel propaganda. Expect things to get even worse if trustees replace Russell-Rawlins with someone with a similar mindset and approach.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what will happen if TDSB follows the guidelines provided by the Ontario Public Supervisory Officers’ Association (OPSOA), the organization representing superintendents and directors of education in Ontario.

To be eligible for the position, prospective directors of education must complete the OPSOA’s Supervisory Officer’s Qualification Program. However, this program looks like a woke propogandist’s dream. According to the OPSOA’s website, the qualification program focuses on “anti-oppression, anti-racism, [and] anti—colonialism.” No wonder education directors appear obsessed with these topics.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has stated that he wants school boards to focus more on academics. He’s even gone so far as to publicly rebuke school boards that get mired in debates over secondary issues such as masks or transgender policy. Lecce is right to be concerned. From 2003 to 2022, Ontario’s PISA math test scores declined from 530 to 495. That’s the equivalent of nearly two years of learning loss. Clearly, something needs to change.

However, things will only change for the better when school boards start hiring education directors who reject DEI ideology and who put academics first. This means choosing men and women who haven’t climbed the career ladder by pushing DEI initiatives.

At a minimum, the province must drop the requirement for education directors to hold supervisory officer’s qualifications. Making the completion of a program replete with DEI buzzwords such as “anti-oppression” and “anti-colonial” mandatory is a surefire way to ensure that education directors will focus on non-academic issues.

Fortunately, the Ford government has started making at least some changes. Back in 2020, Ontario removed the requirement for directors of education to be former teachers. Considering the uselessness of most Bachelor of Education courses, it’s legitimate to ask why anyone would need an education degree to run a school board.

Obviously, none of this means that qualifications don’t matter. The Ford government’s recent announcement that all future teachers must pass a math proficiency test shows that basic competency matters. People working for school boards, particularly those in the top job, must also be familiar with the education system and know how to lead effectively.

It’s important to remember why we have schools in the first place. The purpose of education is to help students master the academic basics, acquire important life skills, and become responsible Canadian citizens—not to indoctrinate students into woke ideology.

Schools can only function if they have the trust of the communities they serve. If parents feel that teachers are ignoring their concerns or are disrespecting their beliefs, they will pull their kids out of the government school system and pursue other educational options. While parents should always have this right, it’s unfortunate when they are forced into it by administrators who are hostile to their values.

TDSB trustees have a real opportunity to make a change for the better by hiring an education director with a track record of putting academics first. Otherwise, TDSB will continue its downward spiral.

Real change starts at the top. Hopefully, TDSB trustees realize the importance of the decision they are about to make and hire the right person for the job.

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WEF report: Digital ID has become a standard feature for everyday life in Pakistan

Published on

From LifeSiteNews

By Tim Hinchliffe

A WEF report, co-authored by the U.N. and World Bank, states that digital public infrastructure ‘is transforming lives in Pakistan,’ ushering in a need for digital ID such that adults in Pakistan cannot lead normal lives without it.

Digital identity sits at the heart of Pakistan’s Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) transformation and is now a standard feature in every adult’s life, according to the WEF Agenda.

Published on the World Economic Forum (WEF) Agenda blog and co-written by representatives from the World Bank and the United Nations’ Better Than Cash Alliance, the story “Digital public infrastructure is transforming lives in Pakistan. Here’s how” highlights how adults in Pakistan cannot lead a normal life without having a digital identity, which is a key component of DPI.

 

“At the heart of Pakistan’s digital transformation is the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), established to overhaul the country’s identity systems,” the authors write, adding:

This was a foundational change, positioning Pakistan among a select group of nations equipped to manage comprehensive digital identities for over 240 million citizens.

The NADRA-issued Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) is now a standard feature in every adult Pakistani’s life, facilitating a range of routine tasks such as opening bank accounts, purchasing airline tickets, acquiring driver’s licenses, and qualifying for social protection, thereby ensuring seamless identity authentication for every citizen.

Digital Public Infrastructure is a civic technology stack consisting of three components:

  • Digital Identity,
  • Fast Digital Payment Systems (e.g. programmable Central Bank Digital Currencies [CBDCs]),
  • Data Exchanges Between Public and Private Entities.

Now, “Pakistan is set to launch several ambitious DPI initiatives, including expanding the RAAST payment system, implementing a nationwide digital health records system, and launching a blockchain-based land registry,” according to the WEF Agenda.

In 2020 the State Bank of Pakistan partnered with non-profit Karandaaz, which is a “prime delivery partner of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”

In 2021 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation granted Karandaaz $4 million “to integrate the Ehsaas Program (biggest Government to Person Program in Pakistan) with RAAST-Pakistan’s Instant Payment System to enable interoperability and choice for the beneficiaries.”

Contributing to the WEF blog post are the World Bank’s technical advisor for Digital Public Infrastructure and Digital ID Tariq Malik, along with the U.N.-based Better Than Cash Alliance’s head of Asia Pacific Prerna Saxena and Pakistan lead Raza Matin.

The U.N.’s Better Than Cash Alliance advocates for “responsible digital payments” and repeatedly states it does not want to abolish physical cash.

However, the Better Than Cash Alliance does want more women to have accounts in their own name, which could also lead to more citizens being tracked, traced, and taxed in the digital system:

We do not want to abolish physical cash, but rather wish to ensure that people have choice in how they make and receive payments. It is important for people to have digital payment options that are responsible and ‘better than cash’ – for example, a woman can have a payment account in her own name, which she manages. To be clear, we do not want to prevent people from using cash, as sometimes it is the best or only payment option.

Speaking at the World Bank Group’s inaugural Global Digital Summit last March, World Bank President Ajay Banga said that digital identity should be embraced worldwide, and that governments should be the owners, so they can guarantee privacy and security for their citizens.

According to Banga, once everyone is hooked-up to a digital ID, then it can be linked to existing infrastructure run by private companies.

“Creating a digital identity platform for citizenry is kind of foundational, and I believe your government should be the owner of your digital ID; private companies should not own that,” said the World Bank president, adding, “it is the social contract of the citizens of their countries to have an identity, a currency, and safety. We should not take that away from them.”

“They should have the digital identity; that digital identity should guarantee the privacy of that citizen; it should help them with their security, but the government should give the identity,” said Banga, adding:

Once you do that, then connecting them to the infrastructure that a private company, either Ericsson or Verizon, or combinations of them – in fact mostly it’s a combination – then the question is, ‘What do you do with it that requires a digital ID?’ so you can start connecting with that citizen.

For Banga and other unelected globalists, digital identity is the key to unlocking access to goods and services through public-private partnerships – the fusion of corporation and state.

Last year, the United Nations partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to launch the 50-in-5 Digital Public Infrastructure campaign to accelerate digital ID, digital payments systems, and data sharing among 50 countries by 2028.

Last week, former British prime minister-turned globalist technocracy enthusiast Tony Blair said that digital ID was essential to modern infrastructure but would require “a little work of persuasion.”

Speaking on a panel about Digital Public Infrastructure at the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) 2023 Spring Meetings, Infosys co-founder and ex-chair of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Nandan Nilekani, said that everybody should have a digital ID, a bank account, and a smartphone as they were the “tools of the New World” for digital public infrastructure.

India is the globalists’ shining example of what DPI should look like in practice.

Following the B20 India Summit last year, the leaders of the B20 published their annual communique, with a section dedicated to DPI rollouts.

The B20 India communique called on G20 nations to rollout DPI, with the first policy action being to “Promote the digitization of identities at the individual, enterprise, and farm levels that are both interoperable and recognized across borders.“

As a key performance indicator for digital ID rollouts, the B20 recommended that “G20 nations develop guidelines for unique single digital identification for MSME [micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises] and individuals that can be securely accessed (based on consent) by different government and private stakeholders for identity verification and information access within 3 years.”

Speaking at the WEF Global Technology Governance Summit in April 2021, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said that his government’s goal was to create a digital ID system that would make Ukraine the most convenient State in the world by operating like a digital service provider.

“We have to make a product that is so convenient that a person will be able to disrupt their stereotypes, to breakthrough from their fears, and start using a government-made application,” said Fedorov.

“Our goal is to enable all life situations with this digital ID,” he added.

While Ukraine has sought to enable all life situations with its digital ID, the WEF reports that digital identity “is now a standard feature in every adult Pakistani’s life.”

Reprinted with permission from The Sociable.

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Business

Corporate Canada betrayed capitalism. Now it has been betrayed

Published on

From the Fraser Institute

By Bruce Pardy

The original Battlestar Galactica, a campy space opera, debuted on network television in 1978. Canadian actor John Colicos played the traitor Baltar, who helps robot Cylons ambush human civilization. After humans have been almost wiped out, Baltar is hauled before the Cylons’ Imperious Leader. “What of our bargain?!” Baltar demands. “My colony was to be spared!” The Leader says he has altered the bargain. “How can you change one side of a bargain?!” Baltar spits, not getting it. “When there is no other side,” the robot tells him, “You have missed the entire point of the war. There can be no survivors.” “Surely,” Baltar stammers, finally understanding, “you don’t mean me.”

Corporate Canada should know the feeling. After years of colluding with climate hysteria and betraying capitalism, Canadian companies have been dumped at the curb.

On June 20, Bill C-59 received Royal Assent. It’s a hodgepodge bill of humdrum provisions, hundreds of pages long, related to last year’s spring federal budget and fall economic statement. But buried in the stack are two sections that prohibit “greenwashing.” Businesses cannot claim that their products or practices help to protect against climate change or provide other environmental benefits unless they can prove the claims are true. The provisions amend the Competition Act and make climate and other environmental claims subject to the same regulatory regime as false advertising.

Companies and industry associations have taken down climate pledges and environmental commitments from their websites and social media. “Ottawa’s ban on ‘greenwashing’ has already put a chill on climate disclosure targets,” objected Deborah Yedlin, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, in a commentary for CTV. It will affect the entire economy, she wrote, add bureaucratic burden, halt investment, and weigh on Canada’s sagging productivity. Corporate Canada has lost its climate bargain.

Over the course of decades, Western countries, but nowhere more than Canada, have undergone a cultural revolution. Accelerating climate activism, aggressive social justice ideology and managerial government have changed the landscape. Business elites, instead of defending capitalism, competition, open markets, the rule of law and other values of Western civilization, decided to switch rather than fight. To protect their own prosperity and influence, corporate leaders learned to speak the language and adopt the norms of progressive collectivism. They became cheerleaders for the new regime. Many came to believe in it themselves.

Companies took on new roles. The social responsibility of business became not merely to increase its profits, as Milton Friedman famously insisted, but to serve as social welfare agencies. They were not just to obey the law and deliver products and services that people wanted to buy, but to pursue social and environmental causes. They would serve the interests not just of their shareholders but their “stakeholders,” as “Environmental, Social and Governance” (ESG) models demanded.

In their marketing and rhetoric, they embraced climate action, corporate social responsibility, social licence, “equity, diversity and inclusion” (EDI) and social justice. They promoted the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are a blueprint for socialist managerialism. The Business Council of Canada endorsed carbon pricing and Canada’s climate plans. Major oil companies promoted net zero and repeated the kinds of claims that governments themselves made: that climate action in Canada helps to prevent the climate from changing.

Such claims are patently false. Even if you believe in anthropogenic climate change, if your country doesn’t contribute much to the problem, cutting its contribution isn’t a solution. Bringing Canadian carbon emissions to zero would make no measurable difference to anything. Countries that together produce far and away most of the emissions on Earth have no intention of changing their paths. And who can blame them? If I were them, I would do the same.

Canada excels at climate boondoggles. Carbon taxes are just more money for government coffers that do not necessarily reduce emissions, if that actually mattered.

Wind and solar power, a lucrative source of government largesse that some businesses have adeptly saddled up to, don’t replace fossil fuels. Carbon capture and storage, perhaps the most pathetic pretend of them all, is a breathtakingly expensive symbolic gesture that cannot be applied at scale. The Paris accord and its net zero aspirations are climate fairy tales.

Canadian business leaders would never say any of this. That was the deal: pay homage to the climate gods, and you can be on the team. But now they can’t.

Progressive statism has never been about the climate, or transgenderism, or whatever the cause du jour. The target has always been Western values and principles. Free enterprise is anathema to its aspirations, and as it turns out, so is prosperity itself. Canadian companies have betrayed the economic principles of their own society. How does government change one side of a bargain? When there is no other side.

The Canadian business community still does not understand the point of the revolution. There can be no survivors. Surely, they sputter, you don’t mean us.

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